Wednesday, December 28, 2011

After Christmas Update

Christmas has come and gone and I am busy busy busy.  There is much to do around the house before our school year resumes. 
First things first I listed all the things I needed to accomplish during the break.  The list was two pages long. Most everything has been done with the exception of planning for our next semester.  I am dreading it.  I don’t want to do it.  Part of my drudgery comes from looking at other curriculum options for next year.  Basically I am pretty sure that the curriculum we use next year will come planned with Instructors guides and all.  This means the five to ten hours a week spent creating lesson plans and reserving books at the library and mapping out each child's schedule will already be done for me.  So I will get that time back to give to my husband and children.  Hubby has already informed me that the kids get enough of my time he is claiming all free hours.  So I am eagerly awaiting those changes for next year, probably a little too much, as I think about it almost daily.
Anyway there are several projects underway here the major one was some laundry room renovation.  What do you do when you have a small laundry room with no shelves.  You make it work! Hubby built  another shelf for me this weekend and I did a through cleaning and quickly filled the shelves with our bulk inventory.  Hubby is so great with this type of stuff.  He is my sweet Babu as Sally from Peanuts would say.
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Another project we are working on is making space for all the new Christmas gifts.  Our formal dinning room is a mess because I refuse to let the children bring their new toys to the toy room until we have a space for them.  That meant we needed to go through our current toys and decide what we could part with to make space for the new toys.  We filled four trash bags full to the brim with toys. I am always amazed at the amount of stuff we collect in this house.  Hubby will not let me buy more storage solutions to accommodate more stuff.  So we must continually declutter.  While I agree that we should not make it easier for us to collect things, we would still benefit from a few well placed storage solutions. 
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Lastly I finished our menu plan for the month of January, completed bulk shopping, tackled lots of laundry and a host of other things I just could not get to until this break.  That leaves planning for our upcoming semester, taking down the Christmas tree and organizing the classroom guess I better get to it. 
PS.  I should note that their toy bins are not empty I just did not take a picture of the bins half empty back in their spot.  I will save that for a later post.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

The tree is up, the lights are on.  The children are snug in their beds eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival.  I am headed up to the room to lock myself in and finish wrapping the last few items.  Its going to be a great Christmas!

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Today we decorated Gingerbread cookies.  They did not turn out as I hoped but the boys had a great time.  Then we loaded up the boys in their pj’s and drove around viewing Christmas lights. 

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We ended the night checking our Santa Tracker via AT&T.  Last sighting he was in South America. 

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Tomorrow we will start the day at church with mom and then come home open gifts and later go spend some time with other family members.  Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

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Tiffany

Happy Birthday Joshua

Yesterday was a special day here at Random Uttering. Our youngest turned two. Wow, it seems that these two years have flown by so quickly. Joshua is growing faster than I would like. Makes me long for another little one. There’s something about a growing toddler that makes you want a newborn. Though he is still my baby I am missing the days when I would just hold and cuddle him. He is not much of a cuddler now, but I get my hugs and kisses regardless.

Our celebration today was small just the family. It was perfect. We had cupcakes from a local grocery store, ice cream and I cooked chicken strips, candied yams and steamed broccoli. Yum!

Happy birthday baby boy may the Lord bless you to see many, many more.

video

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Put Yourself on a Schedule

Creating a schedule for yourself is one of the best things you can do. It provides your day with structure and reduces stress. How can a schedule reduce stress?  Well prior to implementing a schedule or chore chart, I was constantly overwhelmed about all the things that need to be accomplished around the house.  A schedule provides me with specific tasks thereby alleviating that voice in my head that was overwhelmed not knowing where to begin. Planning and implementing a schedule can be daunting but once accomplished a schedule brings order to chaos. Spend some time thinking about everything you need to do in a day and write it down. Some people think timing yourself while going about your daily chores may help. You may find that you are trying to accomplish 28 hours of things when there are only 24 hours in a day, of which eight of those need to be set aside for sleep.  If you are attempting to many things this will give you a visual. Ask yourself  if all your activities really add value to you or your family.  At that point choose to let the excess things go. 

Back to the chore chart/schedule. Go to each room with a sheet of paper labeled daily, weekly, monthly/seasonal.   Write down all that needs to be done under each category.  Then create a routine/schedule for yourself.  Finally, stop procrastinating and just do it. Be disciplined and be about your purpose in your home. You will be glad you did. 

I have found that focusing on zones that collect clutter for fifteen minutes each day has improved the overall tidiness of my home. It’s just fifteen minutes and whatever is not done I will get to the next time that zone comes up.  Below I have attached a copy of my list from around my house and my weekly chore list.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you.  More importantly, I hope you take the ideas that resonate with you and incorporate them in a system that’s suits your needs.  Wishing you the best as you Declutter your life and home.

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1XzljkwuHxo8YnCwM9il1kys0eoYPhNMHWdEKr6jL8H4

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1r4nale4-PAQJQf14sn4mcJtI6wBWITM4bVehkBfVPmU

Friday, December 16, 2011

Semester Wrap Up

The fall semester has come to an end here at Random Uttering. Honestly, winter break could not come at a better time, because I am tired, very tired.  There will be no traveling over this break and I have a lot of work to do around the house but I will not be teaching everyday and that is a break.  Trust me.  So here is just a little glimpse of what we have been up to the past few weeks.

Science- We did a project mixing primary colors.  We made all the colors of the rainbow. Plus we found out what happens once we mix all the colors primary and secondary together.

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We took a brief detour down the dinosaur lane.  Christopher is really into dinosaurs right now.  He took a class during co-op this semester that really piqued his interest. So I checked out a stack of books about dinosaurs from the library and we read through several a day.

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Today was our final day of class for the fall semester.  What better way to bring our semester to an end than with a field trip. We checked out a Dinosaurs Live exhibit hosted by a local museum. The eerie thing was the dinosaurs made noise and moved.  I was freaked out at first,  but tried to keep my cool.  The older boys loved it but Joshua was trying his best to get out of the stroller and run away.

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We read lots of great books.

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Emmanuel continues to work on his motor skills, tracing letters.

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Reading- We have finally incorporated Hooked On Phonics into our schedule.  I don’t know why it took me so long to begin this program.  Emmanuel looks forward to his daily phonics practice.  The program has several components. The first is the workbook, we go through the workbook and learn about the upper and lowercase letter then we match the pictures that begin with the sound.

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Next there are computer games that reinforce what we have learned in a fun way.  Of course this is Emmanuel’s favorite part. 

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Once you complete a unit then you review by playing a matching game with provided cards.  There is also a reader that I read to him after he completes each unit that uses the phonics rules discussed in the unit. 

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History- This semester history was really a challenge for me.  I will post more about what I have learned about myself regarding curriculum at the end of the year.  Thankfully I came up with a way to make our history program work for us.  We have added several events to our timeline. 

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Reading/Language Arts-  We are covering so many things consonant blends, bl, br, sn, tw consonant digraphs sh, ch, vowel sets ee, ea, ai , ay, ie, oe, ou, and we are just learning how to alphabetize words. 

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So I thought this would be the right time to give Christopher his first dictionary.  I spent a little time discussing how to use his dictionary and he was off.  His excitement over his dictionary really surprised me, though I’m not sure why.

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Math- Nothing really new in math we are approaching the finish line slowly but surely. He has studied tally marks, counting by 2’s and 5’s.  He can count by one’s beyond 150, identify even and odd numbers, sorting items, math facts, telling time to the hour and half hour and much much more.  During the spring we will continue our lessons as planned but I will work with him with him more in depth telling time.  I feel we can work beyond what our curriculum calls for in this area. 

Christopher continues with his Lego challenges even though most are not posted on the blog.  Recently, his challenge was to  create a self portrait from Lego.  He completed the task, but I forgot to submit it.  Shame, shame, shame on me.  I told you I need a break.

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Joshua is growing, growing growing.  He is learning lots of new words but not formulating sentences yet.  He will be two soon so I will address this issue with his primary care physician when we go for his two year visit.  I think we will need the services of a speech therapist. 

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Well there you have it.  The past few weeks have been a blur.  I am so grateful for this time to rest.  Though there is much to do and my Christmas break will be very busy, I will have some rest from teaching.  My days will be spent finalizing my chore chart for the new year, bulk cooking, cleaning and lesson planning. Not to mention attending Christmas gatherings with friends and family. In addition, I will be posting the final posts on my Decluttering My Life and Home series. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Searching

I’m searching for something

Perhaps I’ll never find it

But I know its here, it just has to be

I’m searching for something

A place, where I belong

A place, where I fit in,

A place that is comfortable for myself and my kids

You see they are not aware of my yearning

But I feel that they could, we could

Enjoy something that is so much more

I’m searching for something

A connection,

An energy,

A place that just feels like home

Everyone would know my name and I theirs

A place where I don’t have to speak in code

A place where I wouldn’t feel so sad

A place where I don’t have to explain myself,

Someplace other than here

Will I ever find this place

This Utopia

This somewhere beyond the rainbow

Or will this ache,  follow me until my time here is no more

Until then, I continue my search

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Value of Meal Planning

So I will be honest and tell you that in the past I never saw the value in menu planning. Okay I said it, don't judge me. Whenever I read books or blogs about meal planning, it was more for meal ideas. Truthfully, it was not clear that I needed a systematic method of preparing meals. So you would think that I had it all together but on the contrary many meal times came around and I was just not prepared. Instead I found myself scratching my head, agonizing over what we could eat. Consequently a large portion of our money has been spent on eating out. My husband has said for years that I need a plan for my meals. Though I tried several ideas, nothing really resonated with me until I found Once A Month Cooking.
Once A Month Cooking works well for a person like me because I'm an emotional eater. In the past I would make out a weekly plan but many times I felt bored with the menu and wanted to eat something else. Something that was not in the plan and I did not have all the ingredients for. Of course this was very frustrating and left me wondering how other families were making meal plans work for them. OAMC is the perfect solution because it provides me with options. Once the meals are prepared it doesn't matter when we eat them as long as they are eaten within a certain time frame. What freedom!
Meal planning is a lot of work and can seem daunting. However if you spend the time up front doing the hard work of designing meals and organizing a system that works best for you it can be a blessing. Did I say it would not be easy?  In case I didn’t I want to reiterate that point.  Creating and implementing a system where there has previously been no system will be a challenge. The important thing to remember is find an idea that you like and tailor it to the needs of your family.  It is also important to remember that it may take more time than you hoped to get the plan in place.  Old habits are hard to break and new habits can be a challenge to form but don’t give up.  Once you get through the rough part it should be smooth sailing. 
A good place to start is make a list.  I am a list maker, its true.  You can find a list for just about everything around my house.  This list should contain all the meals breakfast, lunch and dinner including snacks that your family eats.  Once you have all these items written down it will be easier to plug them into a calendar and create a rotation. 
Here is my set up. There are five sheets that hang on the side of my refrigerator.  A monthly calendar, Freezer Contents List, Freezer Cooking Prep List, Prep Day Planner and a Grocery List (not shown).
First I take a blank calendar and fill in my meals.  This calendar servers as the guide for my groceries.  The Prep Day Planner helps me think through what is needed for each meal and what prep work can be done for each meal.  This form has three columns, recipe idea, prep work and shopping list.  Then I have a grocery list where I check off items we need as we run out of them. For example if we use the last of the oatmeal I go and check it off on the grocery list.  Next is the Freezer Cooking Prep Worksheet, this form is used the day I do the prep work.  It has four columns as well meal, ingredients and prep work required and then the last column is a box to check once the prep work is done.  The last form is the Freezer Contents List.  I love this sheet best because it is my inventory for what is actually in my freezer.  There are four columns meals, date, number and notes.  Simply list the meals, the date cooked, quantity and any notes.  Generally my notes will have the reheat instructions and what side items to add.  This makes it easy for anyone to feed the family incase I am not around. Once a meal has been removed from the freezer I strike a line through it on this form as well. 
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This has given me direction and so much more peace at dinner time.  Although I am building up to cooking an entire month of meals at once cooking twice a month has been a breath of fresh air.  Plus the added benefit of saving my family money.  My goal for next year is to cut our eating out budget in half.  Over the holidays I will create an eat out jar.  I will deposit all money that we don’t spend eating out into this jar.  Hubby has promised me that all money I save is mine to do as I want.  That’s major incentive because we spend a lot of money eating out.  Stay tuned for my progress. 
Hopefully these tips have been helpful for you.

Tiffany

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa’s Helper

This year I had the best helper with the Christmas tree.  My oldest son Christopher was a trooper.  He was eager to set up the tree and he did not disappoint.  We don’t have a real tree, don’t kill me.  But we anxiously await for hubby to pull out all the Christmas decorations.  Really you should see us standing at the bottom of the attic stairs as hubby brings down all the holiday boxes. This year was no different.  Christopher and I set out all the parts to the tree.  He read the directions and we assembled each layer of the tree until it was completed lights and all.
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What a joy to share this special time with my oldest son.  Later Emmanuel joined us and helped put ornaments on the tree.  Originally I thought he would help us assemble the tree as well.  But during his first five minutes he broke the base of tree at which time I told him that I would call him when I needed him.  He rejoined us after assembly and did a great job placing ornaments on the tree.
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Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  The tree is finished for the most part but I am missing buffalo snow, that I generally put under the tree.  I am certain I purchased some but I can’t find it. So I am off to purchase some.  I hope you are enjoying your holiday season!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stashing Christmas Gifts

Its Christmas time!   This time of the year can be such a joy.  This year I had to find a new hiding place for the gifts.  My old faithful spot that served me well for six years  can no longer be used.   On top of that Christopher is very aware that mommy should be purchasing gifts now. In fact anytime I leave the house for an extended time period he questions where I have been and if I have purchased any gifts.  So my shopping and stashing has been adventurous to say the least.  Hopefully I will not forget the various locations said gifts are stashed.  Where are you hiding your gifts?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Decluttering My Life and Home Part 2

Repost


These tips have helped me tremendously as I work through decluttering my life and home.  I hope these tips will bless someone else as well.

Tip One:  Love Your Home. 
Perhaps if I loved my home from day one I would not be in my current situation. Honestly, the majority of the time  I have lived in my home, I have not loved it.  I had the attitude that this was only a starter home and I would get my dream home in a few years.  Having this perspective really handicapped me.  Instead of being grateful for the home I had.  I was dreaming about the home I wanted.  Wishful thinking got me no where.  Instead of using my energy positively in my current home.  My energy was wasted in a whirlwind of how I hated my home and wished for another home.  But then one day I got it.  Hello! I have a home and its a nice home.  It needs some TLC but all homes need that.  In addition, I don't need to move to another home, because this is the home we can afford. 
Thinking back several generations, families did not move around like we do today.  On the contrary, once you purchased a home that was it.  It was your homestead a place where your children's children would come to visit.  As things broke down, you repaired them.  If you needed more space perhaps you would add on or else you would just make do. But the idea of moving every seven years or so was not normal.
So you must love your home.  Wheter your living space is 800 square feet or 4500 square feet love it.  Have an attitude of gratitude for your living space.  Any other attitude will not serve you or your family well.  

Tip Two: Identify Problem Zones
 Now that you have the proper attitude about your home. Identify problem zones in your home. Spend some time evaluating each room. As you go through each room identify zones within the room that are problems. Ask yourself why is this area consistently cluttered? What specifically about the room is not working and how can you eliminate that problem. Is there sufficient shelving?  What items would improve this space? Once you have identified the problems zones work hard to get those areas organized first.
For example, is your foyer always cluttered with shoes? As you brainstorm about ways to improve this zone ask yourself the questions listed above.  You may find that a simple solution to your problem zone is a shoe rack.  However another solution would be pick the shoes up and put them in their respective places. Pick a solution that works best for you and is easy to maintain.

I have discovered that my problem zones are the kitchen, office/classroom, toy room, formal dining and master bedroom and bath.  I will share more about these in an upcoming post.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Decluttering My Life and Home Series Part 1

*This is a repost.  Originally posted earlier this year, I am completing this series to end out the year. 


A few weeks ago a sudden urge to declutter/organize my home came over me.  It all began when I decided I should start planning meals for my family.  You see, I have always cooked for my family but I have not approached meal planning systematically.   While searching for the perfect software to help me in the kitchen.  I realized that I needed help in other areas of managing my home.  As I looked around my house there was a spirit of determination that came over me.  There was too much clutter everywhere.  In just about every room there was an area that needed some attention.  Right then and there I made a conscious choice to get my home in shape.  I needed to declutter and get organized, quickly.

First things first, I needed help for this task.  So I purchased a book Simplify your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way by Marcia Ramsland.  In addition I picked up the book The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide To  Homeschooling by Barbara Frank.  This book has been sitting on my shelf for just about a year.  While reading these two books I came face to face with my reality.  My home management skills left something to be desired.  I had a aha moment.  Here I am, married for almost ten years with three children.  One would think that I should have mastered the basics of home management. Yet I have felt overwhelmed and ill equipped to handle it all at times.Going through this process I realized that there are many layers to decluttering and organizing my home.  And frankly, there's a long road ahead of me in this battle.But I have a new perspective and I am positive I can do this.

In a nutshell there is a difference between cleaning and organizing. Cleaning is a superficial quick fix while organizing and decluttering is the complete opposite.  Decluttering/organizing forces you to deal with your emotional attachment to the excess stuff in your life and get rid of it.  Remember the layers I mentioned above.  Check back during the upcoming weeks and months because I will be posting about my journey as I go through my home room by room getting rid of the clutter.  If you find that you too are having difficulty managing your home my hope is that this information will be helpful to you.

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